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Yosemite National Park is a national park in Mariposa County, and Tuolumne County, California, United States. Nestled inside the Sierra Mountains in California, Yosemite offers visitors endless hours of wonder and excitement. You’ll find plenty of fun-filled activities along with lodging and dining options to fit any style or budget. Relax and enjoy the breathtaking scenery and mountainous views all year long but be warned, it is not easy to get accommodation at short or even medium term notice, and frequently booking ahead as much as a year in advance is necessary.

Yosemite National Park embraces a spectacular tract of mountain-and-valley scenery in the Sierra Nevada, which was set aside as a national park in 1890. The park harbors a grand collection of waterfalls, meadows, and forests that include groves of giant sequoias, the world’s largest living things. The park covers an area of 1,189 mi² (3,081 km²) and stretches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Over 3 million people visit Yosemite each year, with most only seeing Yosemite Valley. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, Giant Sequoia groves, and biological diversity (about 89% of the park is designated wilderness area). It was also the first park set aside by the U.S. federal government and through the work of people like John Muir was a focal point in the development of the national park idea.

Highlights of the park include Yosemite Valley, and its high cliffs and waterfalls; Wawona’s history center and historic hotel; the Mariposa Grove, which contains hundreds of ancient giant sequoias; Glacier Point’s (summer-fall) spectacular view of Yosemite Valley and the high country; Tuolumne Meadows (summer-fall), a large subalpine meadow surrounded by mountain peaks; and Hetch Hetchy, a reservoir in a valley considered a twin of Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite is one of the largest and least fragmented habitat blocks in the Sierra Nevada, and it supports a diversity of plants and animals. The park has an elevation range from 2,000 to 13,123 feet (600 to 4000 m) and contains five major vegetation zones: chaparral/oak woodland, lower montane, upper montane, subalpine and alpine. Of California's 7,000 plant species, about 50% occur in the Sierra Nevada and more than 20% within Yosemite. There is suitable habitat or documented records for more than 160 rare plants in the park, with rare local geologic formations and unique soils characterizing the restricted ranges many of these plants occupy.

The geology of the Yosemite area is characterized by granitic rocks and remnants of older rock. About 10 million years ago, the Sierra Nevada was uplifted and then tilted to form its relatively gentle western slopes and the more dramatic eastern slopes. The uplift increased the steepness of stream and river beds, resulting in formation of deep, narrow canyons. About 1 million years ago, snow and ice accumulated, forming glaciers at the higher alpine meadows that moved down the river valleys. Ice thickness in Yosemite Valley may have reached 4,000 feet (1200 m) during the early glacial episode. The downslope movement of the ice masses cut and sculpted the U-shaped valley that attracts so many visitors to its scenic vistas today.


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